Pick the right pair of walking trousers as we head into the cooler seasons.
Soft shell type fabrics that are more wind- and water-resistant and slightly thicker are often used in winter trousers. Some may even have waterproof panels in them. However the more waterproof or wind-resistant the fabric, the less breathable it will be and this can result in a clammy feeling against the skin. So maximum water and wind resistance is not always ideal. You can always throw on a pair of waterproof overtrousers in more extreme weather.
For increased durability when scrambling, climbing or mountaineering, look for trousers with knees, seat or ankle abrasion panels. Thicker materials are also often more durable than thinner options.
A stretchy waist, either with a belt or the option of adding one, gives all-round adjustability. Some trousers also have a soft lining for extra comfort. A high waist will protect the lower back better, particularly when scrambling or wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt.
It’s good if some pockets have zippers to keep items safe. Pockets that will accommodate a map are particularly practical, but make sure you can access them even while wearing a rucksack hipbelt.
The best fabrics will have stretch in both the horizontal and vertical direction. However, if the cut of the trousers is good, stretch in one direction is fine, or just a small panel of stretch material may be needed.
Ventilation allows you to cool down. It will also make more insulated trousers versatile enough to wear in a wider range of conditions. Look for vents on the legs or mesh-lined pockets.
Ankle cuffs that can be adjusted are best, as this allows them to be used with different pairs of boots and to be cinched in when scrambling. Drawcords, Velcro and press studs are ideal for preventing material from flapping around the ankle cuff. Zipped ankle cuffs allow trousers to be fitted more closely over the wide and taller ankle cuff of a ski boot or mountaineering boot, and also allow a more relaxed style when a neater fit is not needed.